Do it yourself spectrometer? Cell phone spectrometer add ons? Do it yourself aerial mapping with balloons and kites? Environmental data collection with citizen science devices could fill in some of the gaps created by government cutbacks, especially if combined with the NEON Big Data project. Public Laboratory has just raised more than five times their funding goal on Kickstarter to build a library of open-source spectral data for use in their DIY spectrometers. The balloon mapping kits are already for sale. Their mandate:
“Using inexpensive DIY techniques, we seek to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms. We are activists, educators, technologists, and community organizers interested in new ways to promote action, intervention, and awareness through a participatory research model.
This community began as the Grassroots Mapping project, an effort to produce Do-It-Yourself satellite imagery with balloons and kites, most notably during the 2010 BP oil spill. We are now broadening our scope to explore new inexpensive and community-led means to measure and explore environmental and social issues.”
Citizen science is also being encouraged at the other end of the data world, the National Ecological Observatory Network. The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale observatory designed to gather and provide 30 years of ecological data on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. NEON is a project of the National Science Foundation, with many other U.S. agencies and NGOs cooperating, and has been promised $434 million in US federal funds to revolutionize large scale environmental data.